Google+ Badge

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"For God so loved the world"

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

photo  ©2009  Brenda Clarke, Flickr

This is the most significant verse in the N.T. , yet it is taken out of context more often than not. So many people believe that this is “THE” salvation verse, and one need not go any further to understand how to be saved. Many believe that simple belief is all that is needed. But to camp out on this one verses is to discount the rest of John’s Gospel and to ignore other significant passages throughout the rest of the N.T.

When Jesus makes this statement to Nicodemus, Jesus hadn’t been lifted up yet. Jesus is simply letting Nicodemus know that salvation is on its way. It had not come yet. John is sharing this in his Gospel to let the reader know that Jesus taught about salvation's plan during His ministry. One significant thing to think about concerning this verse is that Jesus is teaching a leader of Israel what to look for, to find salvation. Certain things were going to have to take place for salvation to be made available, and they had not happened at this point in Jesus ministry.

We must bear in mind that the Gospels are the history of Jesus ministry written down by His disciples years after the events recorded in them occurred. The Gospels do not teach us how the first converts to Christianity were made. The first Christian converts were made on the day of Pentecost following Jesus ascension to heaven. Peter was the first to tell new believers what was necessary for the forgiveness of sins as it is recorded in chapter two of the book of Acts.

Nowhere in the N.T. do we see the other Apostles or later disciples teaching anything other than what Peter taught concerning salvation in Acts chapter two. Therefore, we have to conclude that what Peter taught was the standard by which one receives the forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. Another passage to consider, is when Jesus tells Peter He will give him the keys to the kingdom. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 ESV Following Jesus resurrection and ascension it was up to the Apostles to teach the disciples of Christ what was necessary for salvation. Those whose hearts and minds were right, accepted the message of the Gospel and responded in obedience. See the beatitudes of Matthew chapter five.

Today we have all that we need to know about salvation in the N.T., we must understand that we need to read it all, not just one verse. God wouldn’t have given us twenty seven books in the N.T. if we didn’t need to hear all that was said in all of them. Let’s take in all that the N.T. has to offer, it is The Word of God and it is the final word on His plan of salvation.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book review, The Case for Historic Christianity

The Case for Historic Christianity
by Edward C. Wharton

This book is an excellent resource to have in your library. It is a great introduction  to historical Christian evidences. Edward Wharton does a great job of giving the reader a concise view of "Historical Christianity". He touches on two very important themes. The reliability of the N.T. scriptures and the evidence of Jesus resurrection. I think even a sceptic could come away from reading this book with the understanding that Jesus was a real person in history and that the things written about him are true. 

I highly recommend this book. It would be a great gift for someone with a lot questions about the bible and its historical reliability.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"The Son of man must be lifted up"

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14,15 ESV

When Jesus says this to Nicodemus he is referring to  an incident that occurred during the Exodus when the Hebrews spoke against God and Moses concerning their displeasure with God’s provision for them. This incident can be found in Numbers 21:5-9.

God’s people were rebellious, so God sent serpents to bite them and they would die because of their rebellion (sin). Yet He did provide them a way to be saved from their plight. When the people repented, Moses prayed to God on their behalf and God commanded him to make a bronze serpent on a pole. From then on, when they were bitten and looked at the serpent on the pole they would live.

What Jesus is telling Nicodemus in this passage is that God is going to provide a way for His people to be saved from their plight once and for all. Jesus is speaking of His crucifixion, and that when Jesus is raised up on the cross he will provide a way to save His people from death for the sins they have committed. When they see Jesus crucified and believe in Him they will be given eternal life.

Read Acts 2: 14-41 to see how this lesson that Jesus taught came to fruition. “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” Acts 2:24 When those that had believed the message that Peter was sharing they looked to the crucified Christ and were forgiven of their sins and given eternal life.

So today, look to the cross of Christ, the lifted up Jesus believe and obey the gospel call and gain salvation. Respond to Jesus the way the people in Acts 2 did. Repent of your sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Yet you do not understand"

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? John 3:9,10 ESV

In this interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus addresses that fact that as a teacher of Israel, Nicodemus cannot grasp this concept of rebirth. The reason for this is that Nicodemus thinks in very human terms and not spiritual ways that Jesus is revealing to him.

What Jesus is getting at is that as a spiritual teacher, Nicodemus should grasp spiritual concepts. Nicodemus would have been a highly educated man, yet his education stands in the way of understanding of the spiritual.

We too can be like this. We can be highly educated in the word of God and yet not see the spiritual implications of the knowledge we have. This was a chronic problem among the Pharisees that Jesus encountered. Although highly educated in the word of God, they didn’t understand the message in the word of God. They were more about the letter of the law than the heart of the law. This was their undoing.

So today, we must be careful as well. We don’t want to found as highly educated in the word of God, and blind to the spiritual implications of the word. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, September 16, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Jesus answered"

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:5,6 ESV
photo  ©2011  Ken and Nyetta, Flickr
Here we are, early on in the gospel of John and his introduction of Jesus and his teachings and Jesus is sharing some very important information with Nicodemus concerning the coming kingdom. In his teachings on being born again Jesus is making it clear that the kingdom is going to be a spiritual one. He makes it clear one must be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter into that kingdom. Jesus then goes on to make the distinctions between being born of the flesh and being born of the Spirit. This further indicates that the kingdom to come is not a fleshly, but a spiritual kingdom. Entrance into this kingdom is conditional. One must be reborn in order to enter in.

One thing we must remember is that the kingdom that Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about has not come into existence yet, Jesus is speaking about the kingdom to come. The conversation that John recorded was happening while the old covenant was still in effect. Jesus hadn’t gone to the cross yet. John shares this conversation in his gospel to show his readers that Jesus had taught about how one enters into the kingdom of God. The kingdom doesn’t come, until the day of Pentecost after Jesus ascended to heaven.

So, as we read the gospel we can see that Jesus was preparing hearts for what they needed to know when His Kingdom was established. Even after this conversation Nicodemus walks away with information about the kingdom, but he is not a member of it yet. No one was born again until the day of Pentecost when those that heard Peter’s gospel message responded to it. Then they were born of the water and the Spirit.

As we read the Gospel of John today we see that Jesus was setting everything in place so that when the need for rebirth came, there would be a firm understanding of what was meant by it.

© 2013 leo J. Woodman

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Unless one is born again"

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3 ESV

Think about the man that Jesus addresses here. He is a Jew, a member of the leading religious party, a ruler of his people. He is coming to Jesus in secrecy. He calls Jesus Rabbi, teacher. In other words this man is approaching Jesus as one wanting to learn from him. Yet not wanting to make it public the he may have something to learn from Jesus.

Nicodemus says “we” know that you are a teacher come from God. That little two letter word we, speaks volumes. Nicodemus has admitted that the leadership of Israel recognizes that Jesus is working for God. Yet publicly they will not admit to it. Why? Because if they do they have to admit that they have something to learn as leaders.

Jesus returns Nicodemus’ greeting with a warning, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. One would imagine that Nicodemus was quite taken aback by Jesus response. Jesus basically told him, if you want to see the kingdom of God, you must start over. Jesus is telling one of the leaders of Israel that where he is at right now as a leader will not grant him access to the kingdom of God. Remember Israel was waiting for its Messiah and being restored as a nation. Jesus has told him that in order for that to happen, changes must be made.

In order for one to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again. Being born again represents a fresh start. A fresh start in God’s eyes. A new beginning in obedience to God. A fresh start that affords not only seeing the kingdom of God, but entrance into that kingdom. John records this interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus so that his readers will know that there are changes that need to occur before one can enter into the kingdom of God.

Obviously Nicodemus’ heart was in the right place because he sought Jesus out. When he sought Jesus, Jesus responded. A leader had realized who his leader was and went to him for leadership. Jesus did not disappoint.

Have you given your life over to Jesus leadership? If not, you need to. Have you been born again? Have you been baptized into Christ and been given a fresh start? If you have been reborn lead others to Jesus so they too can have a fresh start, a new beginning.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Because He Knew All People"

But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
John 2:24,25 ESV

These verses speak to the understanding nature of Jesus. He knew all people from the perspective of being one of them and yet being their creator. This put Jesus in an unusual position. No one could keep a secret from Jesus, because he knew every person's heart. This unique perspective kept Jesus alert to all that went on around him and in the minds of those that followed him.

The amazing thing is, that in spite of Jesus knowledge of man he loved people unconditionally. He sacrificed himself for those he knew, did not deserve what he was doing for them. Jesus came to experience life just like we do. So when it says he knew what was in man, the knowledge came from first hand experience.

He showed compassion for humanity by coming to live close to those that were enslaved to their evil nature. He came to show us a better way. He came so that he could relate to us on every level and guide us into a better way of living.

So today, know that Jesus knows everything about everyone of us and loves us. He trusted himself to his heavenly Father, to use him to bring us to reconciliation with God. We are blessed because he saved us from ourselves.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Destroy this Temple"

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. John 2:18-22 ESV

The Jews wanted to know who Jesus thought He was, causing the ruckus in the temple that He did. They wanted a sign to show them that He had the authority to do the things He had done. So, He tells them that there will be a sign. But as usual they misunderstand the meaning of His response. When He talks about raising up the temple, they assume He is speaking about the temple building itself. Once again they are given the chance to believe in Jesus and what He says and does, but they miss His point.

Obviously the disciples didn’t quite get it at the time either. It was only after Jesus resurrection that they grasped the scope of what Jesus had said. Then they believed, that He had the power to rebuild the “temple”. The Jews had always believed that the temple was the house of God, but they could not grasp the fact that the body of Jesus was the temple or house of God. Such a thing was beyond their comprehension.

Jesus did give them the sign that they had asked for when He was resurrected on the third day. The “temple” had been raised. Certainly the Jews that were in attendance on the day of pentecost for Peter’s sermon, finally realized what had really happened when they had Jesus crucified. They thought they had destroyed Jesus, but he was raised again. Imagine the excitement the disciples felt when they recognized the sign that Jews had been seeking. Jesus did just what He said he would do!

Here in John’s gospel many years later he finds it significant enough to share this event with his readers as he writes to convince them that Jesus is the Messiah. This passage is one more point in Johns introduction of his gospel. John did an incredible job helping his readers to understand the divinity of Christ.

So today,let’s help others to see the same thing. Let’s help others to see that God put on flesh so He could reconcile us to Himself. Let’s help others to see Jesus.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman

Monday, September 2, 2013

"In The Temple"

In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:14-17 ESV
photo  ©2009  FatPassport Inc., Flickr

This scene is one of my favorites from the Gospels. The context of the scene really gives the reader the full story of what Jesus ministry was teaching God’s people. God had come  to live amongst His people and teach them in person who He is and what He wants from His people. As Jesus enters the Temple He sees just how far astray the peoples “religion” had gone and He reacts to it.

Every time I read this passage I wonder how Jesus would react if He walked into one of our congregations today. I think this is a question we have to ask ourselves on a regular basis. One thing you’ll notice about the times that Jesus is confrontational is when He is dealing with the religious leadership. The reasons they are confronted is that they have missed the intent of God’s word and have twisted it to their own purposes.

Those that teach God’s word today and lead others must be very careful not to follow in the footsteps of leaders like the ones Jesus confronts. Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1 ESV

Not many years after this interaction, the temple was destroyed and the priesthood was dissolved. Leadership of God’s people was taken away and given over to others, with Jesus as their head. This lesson shows us that we must be careful in how we serve our God. It is important that we know Jesus teachings and apply them as they were intended.

So today, let’s remember who is in charge. Let’s follow Jesus teachings so that we know we are doing what is right in the sight of our heavenly Father. Let’s teach others to do the same.

© 2013 Leo J. Woodman